Published March 21, 2012
As lies go, this one should be setting off alarms. But except for a Washington Post rebuke, it only raised a few eyebrows. That could be a sign of how many Americans expect routine dishonesty from politicians, including President Obama.
The issue involves the medical care of his late mother, Stanley Ann Dunham. In arguing for health care reform, Obama said in a 2008 debate that, “For my mother to die of cancer at the age of 53 and have to spend the last months of her life in the hospital room arguing with insurance companies because they’re saying that this may be a pre-existing condition and they don’t have to pay her treatment, there’s something fundamentally wrong about that.”
It’s a touching story, and untrue.
A biographer later revealed that the dispute was over disability insurance, not medical coverage or care. And Obama must have known that because he was his mother’s lawyer, and the White House didn’t dispute the biographer.
Yet the story, largely as Obama first told it, has reappeared in “The Road We’ve Traveled,” his campaign’s 17-minute infomercial. As the Post describes it, the video stitches together vague statements from narrator Tom Hanks and First Lady Michelle Obama to make it seem as if the president’s mother died arguing with insurance companies over coverage.
“The impression left by the film is very similar to Obama’s 2008 campaign rhetoric,” the paper’s Fact Checker column concludes. It calls the sequence “misleading” and awards the video three Pinocchios, out of a possible four.
That’s our president, folks, for whom the end always justifies the means.